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Industry Terminology


Allowance Race: Event somewhere in between claiming and stakes (handicap) races for which a racing secretary drafts certain conditions.

Also Eligible: Horses officially entered in a race, but not permitted to start due to a full field of runners. The horse may "draw" into the race if an eligible horse is "scratched."

Apprentice Allowance: Weight concession allowed to an apprentice rider. The amount can be 10, seven or five pounds.

Age: All Thoroughbreds are deemed a year older on January 1 of every year.

Backside: The stable area.

Backstretch: Straightaway part of the track on the far side between turns.

Bit: Metal bar in horse's mouth by which he is guided and controlled. There are many variations.

Black-type Races/Stakes Races: Stakes (the generic term) races are judged according to two standards. The standard that Keeneland and major stakes companies in Florida and California use are the ones established by SITA (Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers) which basically currently grants black-type to any named race that has a 72-hour pre-race closing and an added-money value of $50,000 or more purse distributed on the day of the race or a guaranteed purse of $50,000. Smaller regional markets use stakes guidelines, or any named race which closes 72 hours prior to the running of the race which the owners put in a certain fee for each runner in the race with no minimum purse. Purse structure is directly related to handle and hence population of area.

Bleeder: Horse that bleeds after or during a workout or race due to a ruptured blood vessel. See "Lasix" under Conformation and Veterinary Terms.

Blinkers: Device used to limit a horse's field of vision and to prevent him from swerving from objects, other horses, etc., on either side of him.

Bolt: When a horse suddenly veers from a straight course.

Breeze (Breezing): To work a horse or allow him to run at a moderate speed.

Bridle: A piece of equipment, usually made of leather or nylon, which fits on a horse's head and is where the bit and the reins are attached.

Bug Rider: An apprentice rider who is entitled to weight allowances. Up to the first 10 wins as a jockey, an apprentice gets a 10-pound allowance, then seven pounds up to 35 wins. He or she will then keep a five-pound weight allowance for their mounts until they win 40 races or one full year from their first win - whichever comes last. This gives owners and trainers an incentive to ride the newcomer. You may often hear someone say, he's got the "bug." 

Bullet (Work): The fastest workout time for a particular distance on a given day at a track. Also known as a "black-letter" work in some parts of the country.

Chart: A statistical picture of a race (from which past performances are compiled), that shows the position and margin of each horse at designated points of call (depending on the distance of the race), as well as the horse's age, weight carried, owner, trainer, jockey, and the race's purse, conditions, payoff prices, odds, time, and other data.

Claimer: Horse which runs for a price tag in a claiming race.

Claiming Race: A race for which all horses are entered for a certain price (tag) and may be claimed or purchased for that price. The graduated prices usually indicate different levels of ability. When a horse is purchased out of one of these races he has been claimed or "haltered."

Classics: In the U.S., for colts – Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, all Grade 1; for fillies – C.C.A. Oaks, Alabama Stakes, Mother Goose Stakes, all Grade 1. In England, for colts – 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St. Leger Stakes, all Group 1; for fillies – Group 1 1,000 Guineas and Group 1 Epsom Oaks.

Closer: A horse that performs best during the latter part of the race, usually coming from behind against most of its race competitors.

Colt: An entire male equine, under 5 years of age, unless gelded. At 5 years of age entire males are recognized as horses.

Cooling Out: Restoring a horse's breathing and temperature, usually by walking and offering water after a workout or race.

Condition Book(s): A series of booklets issued by a racing secretary which set forth conditions of races to be run at a particular racetrack.

Coupled: Two or more horses running as a single entry and betting unit due to either the same ownership or trainer. Coupling rules vary from state to state.

Course/Course Record: A course indicates the racing surface such as dirt or grass (turf) and a course record equates to a time record set while horses are running over a that course.

Dead heat: Two or more contestants arriving simultaneously at the finish line. There may be a dead heat for any placement.

Distaffer: Female racehorse. A race for fillies, mares or both.

Dogs: Low wooden portable rails or orange plastic cones placed, during workouts, at a certain distance out from the rail to prevent horses, when the track is muddy or heavy, from churning up the footing along the rail.

Farrier: Horseshoer or blacksmith.

Fast Track: Track footing at its best; dry and even.

Favorite: Most heavily "played" (money bet) horse in a field of runners. The horse with the lowest odds.

Field (Mutuel): One or more starters running as a single betting interest. Usually horses calculated to have a small chance to win are grouped in a "field."

Filly: A female horse, under 5 years of age. At 5 they are called mares.

Furlong (Eighth): One-eighth of a mile, 660 feet (220 yards) or 201.17 meters.

Gate Card: A card, issued by the starter, stating that a horse is properly schooled in starting gate procedures

Gelding: Castrated male horse.

Graded/Group Races: The cream of the races run. Graded stakes in the U.S. (established in 1973) are classified and reviewed each year by the North American graded stakes committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). Graded races must be non-restricted, with an added or guaranteed money of $75,000 or more, have been run at least twice before under similar conditions and on the same surface. Group stakes (inaugurated in 1971) apply to stakes races outside of North America. Group and graded races are ranked on a pyramid scale with grade or group one (G1) races (classics and the top races) at the top (fewer races) followed by important races being ranked grade/group two (G2) and other important, but less so than grade two, races being grade/group three (G3).

Groom: Person who cares for (i.e., feeds, grooms, bathes, cleans up after) a horse.

Handicap: A race, often an overnight or stakes race, in which the chances of winning are equalized by the track handicapper assigning weights – heaviest weights are given to the horses with the best race records; lightest weights to the weakest race records. It is done to even the field for betting purposes but can be controversial among horsemen.

Handily: A horse which is working or racing with moderate effort is said to be working handily.

Handle (Mutuel): Amount of money bet on a race, the daily race card (all of the races) or during a race meeting, season or year.

Hand Ride: The jockey urging a horse to win with his/her hands rather than with the whip.

Homestretch: The front straightaway on the track, from the last turn to the finish line.

In Hand: When a horse is running under moderate control at less than best pace. With speed in reserve at the call of the rider.

Inquiry: When the official results of a race is delayed due to an inquiry into the running of the race (inquiry sign). The inquiry can originate from the stewards or by an objection lodged by the jockey or trainer of a horse in the race. Until the inquiry is resolved by the stewards, the result of the race is not official and no bets can be cashed. The order of finish may stay the same or may be revised to penalize a finisher that interfered with another horse during the running of the race.

In-the-money: A horse which finishes first, second or third in a race.

Irons: Slang term for stirrups.

Juvenile: A 2-year-old horse.

Lead Pony: The horse and rider that accompanies a starter from the paddock to post (starting gate). Lead ponies are used to help quiet the runners. In Europe lead ponies are rarely used.

Listed Race: A stakes race just below a graded or group race in quality.

Maiden: A horse that has not won a race at a recognized racetrack. Also can refer to a filly or mare which has not been bred.

Margins: A length is the distance from a horse's nose to tail, about eight feet, which equates to a margin of distance separating the horses in a race; i.e., half-length, length. A head equals one-eighth length; neck is one-quarter length; two heads equal a neck or one-quarter length; two necks equal a half-length; two noses equal a head.

Morning Line (Odds): Approximate odds quoted at the track in the morning after scratches and track conditions are known.

Odds-on: When the money bet on a horse is less than even money it is the odds-on favorite.

Off Track: Track that is not rated "fast."

Overnight: A sheet published by the racing secretary's office listing the entries for an upcoming racing card.

Overweight: Surplus weight carried by a horse when his rider cannot make the required poundage.

Paddock: Structure or area where horses are saddled for the race and kept before post time.

Photo Finish: Results of a race so close that the placing judges cannot decide the order of finish with the naked eye and must consult photographs of the race finish.

Place: Finish second in a race.

Poles: Markers at measured distances around a track. One-sixteenth poles are black and white striped. Eighth poles are green and white. Quarter poles are red and white.

Post Parade: Horses going from the paddock to the starting gate ("post"), past the grandstands.

Post Position: A horse's position in the starting gate, from which the horse breaks. Positions are numbered from the inside rail outward.

Post Time: Designated time for a race to start.

Purse: Money or prize which a horse competes for. The higher the finish position, the more money is earned, usually.

Racing Secretary: The track official who drafts the conditions of races and types and distances of races run during a race meeting.

Restricted Races: Races restricted to certain runners (not open) as defined by conditions of the race (i.e., state-bred, non-winners of $_____, sired by). Age and sex are not considered restrictions.

Ridgling: Failure of one or both testicles to descend to the scrotum after birth. The testes may be retained within the abdominal cavity or within the inguinal canal.

Saddle Cloth: Cloth under the saddle denoting the post position number of the horse wearing it.

Scratch: To withdraw a horse from a race. After the "scratch deadline" a horse can only be withdrawn by permission of the stewards.

Shadow Roll: A roll, usually of sheepskin, that is secured over the bridge of a horse's nose to keep it from seeing shadows on the track and shying away from or jumping them.

Show: Finish third in a race.

Silks: The distinct colored jacket and cap jockeys wear in a race designating the owner of the horse.

Spit Box: A generic term for test barn. See "test barn."

Stakes: A race which has entries close 72 hours before the running of the race and in which the owners of the entries put up money to run in the race. Winning or placing in stakes qualifies a horse for "black-type" on a catalog page.

Stakes-placed: A runner which finishes second or third in a stakes race.

Stallion/Stud: A male horse kept for breeding. In the west sometimes referred to as a stud. A stud is also an establishment or farm where animals are kept for breeding.

Starter's List: Horses which have need of further schooling, or reschooling, before they can safely be started in a race.

Steward: Person in the employ of the state's racing commission which officiates at a race meeting.

Tattoo Number: All racehorses must be tattooed on their upper lip for identification purposes before being allowed to start in a race. An employee of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) checks the horse against the markings written on The Jockey Club registration certificate to confirm the horse's identification. The horse is then tattooed if they "match" their papers. If not, the papers are stamped and returned to the trainer or owner for correction. The first symbol of the tattoo (a letter) corresponds with the horse's year of birth, which is also the first two numbers of their registration (see chart). The numbers following the letter are the final digits of the horse's registration number.

Test Barn: The structure where horses are taken for post-race testing. Tests may include saliva, urine, and/or blood.

Tongue Tie: Strip of cloth-type material used to stabilize a horse's tongue to prevent it from swallowing or "choking down" in a race or workout, or to keep the tongue from sliding up over the bit, rendering the horse uncontrollable.

Track/Track Record: Track is a generic term for a racetrack. Setting a track record equates with a time record set while horses are running over a dirt surface.

Valet: The person who attends the riders and keeps their wardrobe and equipment in order.

Weight for Age: Fixed scale of weights to be carried by horses according to age, sex, distance and time of year.

Workout: Exercise a horse. Also the time recorded of a horse's gallop over a certain distance during morning workouts.


Back At The Knee: A leg that looks like it has a backward arc, with the center of the arc at the knee when viewed from the side.

Bowed Tendons: Torn tendon fibers which cause enlarged tendons behind the cannon bones, often brought about by severe strain.

Bucked Shins: A temporary racing unsoundness characterized by a very painful inflammation of the peristeum (bone covering) along the greater part of the front surface of the cannon bone, caused by constant pressure from concussion during fast works or races.

Bute (Phenylbutazone): A nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drug with pain relief and fever reducing properties.

Cast: Refers to a horse which has fallen or lain down close to a wall or fence so that it cannot get up without assistance.

Coggins Test: A test for diagnosing equine infectious anemia developed by Dr. Leroy Coggins of Cornell University. Many sales companies, tracks and states require negative coggins tests for shipping into their areas or premises.

Cow Hocked: Standing with the joints of the hocks bent inward, with toes pointing outward.

Cowlick: The center of a hair whorl. They are permanent and cannot be brushed away or clipped out. Cowlicks commonly occur on the head, crest of neck, throat latch and front of neck. They occasionally appear on other parts of the body.

Cribber (Wind Sucker): Considered a vice or bad habit. A horse that bites or sets its teeth against some object, such as a manger or fence, while sucking air into their lungs.

Laminitis (Founder): An inflammation of the laminae (flat tissue in the sole of the foot) under the horny wall of the hoof. All feet may be affected, but the front feet are most susceptible. Two forms are observed: acute and chronic. Acute is manifested by extreme pain, a bounding digital pulse and warm feet. Chronic is manifested by intermittent or persistent lameness and a diverging ring around the hoof wall. The sole of the foot will be dropped due to the rotation of the third phalanx.

Lasix: A brand name for furosemide. A potent diuretic. The most effective permitted drug for treating bleeding of ruptured blood vessels in racehorses.

Over At The Knee: A leg that looks like it has a forward arc with its center at the knee when viewed from the side.

Parrot Mouth: An extreme overbite.

Pastern (Bones): Denotes the area between the fetlock joint and the hoof.

Quarter Crack (Sand Crack): A vertical split in the horny wall of the inside of the hoof (in the region of the quarter), which extends from the coronet or hoof head downward.

Sickle Hock: Deviation in the angle of the hock, giving the impression of a sickle when viewed from the side. The cannon slopes forward due to excessive angulation of the hock.

Splints: Abnormal bony growths found on the cannon bone, usually on the inside surface, but occasionally on the outside. Most common on the front legs.

Stifle: The counterpart of the knee joint in humans. Junction of the horse's tibia and patella in the hind leg.

Toe In: A conformation flaw in which the front of the foot faces in and looks pigeon-toed, often causing the leg to swing outward during locomotion (paddling).

Toe Out: A conformation flaw in which the front of the foot faces out, often causing the leg to swing inward during locomotion (winging).

Tying Up (Monday Morning Sickness, Azoturia or Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolsis-RER): Sudden massive muscle cramps, usually in the hindquarters. Can be mild or very serious, even fatal. Recently concluded to be an inherited trait.


AEI (Average Earnings Index): Shows the earning power of a stallion's progeny compared to the national average. The AEI relates the annual earnings of a sire's progeny to the average earnings of all runners in the same years. 1.00 is considered the national average per given year.

Black-type: Bold face type on a horse's catalog page is referred to as black-type and indicates a stakes winner (in caps) or stakes-placed runner (mixed case print).

Barren: Used to describe a filly or mare that was bred but did not conceive during a stated breeding season.

Breeder (of Record): Owner of a mare, and hence the foal, at time of foaling, unless the dam was under a lease or foal-sharing agreement at the time of foaling.

Broodmare: A filly or mare that has been bred or has produced foals.

By/Out of: A horse is "by" a stallion or "out of" a mare.

Comparable Index: Provides a reading on the quality of mares to which a sire was bred; whether the sire did better, worse or the same with those same mares. The Comparable Index is an AEI for the progeny of the same mares when bred to all other sires.

Dam: Female parent of a horse.

Damsire: The maternal grandfather or grandsire.

Dosage: A theory measuring a horse's inherent distance capabilities using an index based on the stallions, chefs-de-race, in a horse's pedigree.

Foal: A young, unweaned horse of either sex.

Full/Half Brothers or Sisters: Full brothers or sisters are out of the same dam and sire. Half-brothers or sisters have the same dam but a different sire. Brothers/Sisters in blood: By the same sire out of full sisters or by full brothers out of the same dam. Three-quarter Brothers/Sisters: Horses having the same dam whose sires are by the same sire but out of a different dam.

Inbreeding: Mating of closely related individuals or of individuals having similar gene type (genotype).

Inbreeding Quotient (Figures): Marks degree of inbreeding to a certain horse. For example, a 3 x 3 cross indicates that the horse in inbred twice in the third generation; 4 x 3 equals inbreeding in the fourth and third generations. Inbreeding quotients are read top to bottom starting with each generation. Some pedigrees indicate where the inbreeding comes from: 3S x 2D, third generation of sire's pedigree and second generation of dam's pedigree. The inbreeding quotient can mark a horse's inbreeding to a certain mare or stallion. Some pedigrees list inbreeding in bold face type.

Line Breeding: More remote than inbreeding, usually involving horses beyond the fourth generation. The difference in the two being "degree, not principle," according to noted bloodstock expert Leon Rasmussen. Another definition is "a conservation program of inbreeding designed to concentrate the blood of a certain ancestor ... "

Live Foal: A foal that stands and nurses.

Nicks: Affinities of certain bloodlines to work best when mated to other specific bloodlines. Nicks were first noted at stud farms where daughters of one stallion standing there were successfully bred to another of the farm's stallions. Prominent nicks include *Princequillo x *Nasrullah; Northern Dancer x Buckpasser; *Bull Lea x *Blenheim II. There are also "negative" nicks as noted by Buckpasser x Bold Ruler.

Outcross: A horse whose pedigree has no duplicated names or "hidden relatives" (such as three-quarter siblings) within, usually, the first four generations. Some pedigree experts extend this to the sixth generation.

Producer/Produce: A mare becomes a producer after one of her offspring wins a race at a recognized racetrack. Offspring or progeny of a mare.

Sire: Male parent of a horse. A horse becomes a sire after one of his offspring wins a race at a recognized racetrack.

SSI (Standard Starts Index): Compares racing ability of members of each crop, separated by sex (due to the lifetime earnings expectancy for males versus females). 1.00 equals the average per start for members of that crop.

Tail Line: Tail lines can be listed as male-tail or tail female. These refer to the tracing of a pedigree in a direct line. For example: Son of Briartic is male-tail to chef-de-race Nearco, as he is sired by Briartic, a son of Nearctic, which is a son of Nearco. La Saboteur's tail female line traces directly to Bourtai, as his dam Exclusive Fir is out of Blue Medley whose dam is Poetic License, a daughter of the reine-de-course Bourtai.